Toby Rossmann smiles

Toby Rossmann

Following a home explosion in Pottstown, Pa., WFMZ-TV asked Toby Rossmann, associate professor of mechanical engineering, to share insights about gas-explosion investigations.

“Usually, investigators have to identify a fuel source and an ignition source,” Rossmann told the news outlet. “They can see where based on the burn marks on the walls or on the floor to see where the likely initiation event occurred.”

Rossmann says natural gas is the most common cause of explosions like these, though hydrogen sulfide and methane from sewer lines could be another.

“When elements are switching on and off, whether you plug them in or not, there’s a little bit of discharge that might happen,” said Rossmann. “If there’s a flammable mixture or combustible mixture nearby, that can cause an ignition event. Then depending on how much flammable mixture is present, then you can escalate from a little flame to a full-scale explosion.”

Read the full story.


Categorized in: Faculty and Staff, Featured News, In the Media, Mechanical Engineering